My Go To Spring Desserts
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Walking from vender to vender at my local street market and sampling the local farm fresh fruits, berries, cheese, honey, and nuts, seeing the abundance of flowers and the array of bright colors, calls to my attention that the season has changed and it's time to pull out my favorite spring special baking tins and ceramic dishes. February, brings my heart shape Torta Caprese (Chocolate and Almond Flourless Cake) and Flourless Lemon Ricotta & Almond Cake. March, brings a luscious Lemon Curd Mousse Cake and Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies. April, brings Caramel Apple Cream Puffs. May, (my birthday month) brings Berry Tartlets, And, June, brings Rustic Wild Berry Galette and Orange Shortbread Cookies.
FEBRUARY: Torta Caprese (Chocolate and Almond Flourless Cake)
Recipe taken from Food 52 By Emiko
Wow!, your friends with this gluten free delicious flourless chocolate almond cake. You won't even miss the flour. There are tons of Torta Caprese recipes out there, but, I found that this recipe taken from FOOD 52 by Emiko was so easy to make. My friends thought that I spent hours making it. I stayed true to the ingredients and proportions. However, being Valentine's Day, I did add my own embellishments by baking it in a heart shape ceramic dish, adding sweetened whipped cream spiked with Grand Marnier and topping it with fresh raspberries. Give it your own special touch. Top it with any seasonal fruit. But, don't forget to finish it off with an apricot glaze. A good rule of thumb to remember: all fresh fruit topped desserts should always be finished with an apricot glaze.
Bake at 320°F
Cooking time: Bake for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs
Materials: 20 cm or 8 inch round cake tin, I used a ceramic heart shaped baking dish.
Serves about 6
A quick note. All of the ingredients are at the same proportions except for the eggs.
4.4 oz almond meal
4.4 oz 70% dark chocolate, broken or chopped
4.4 oz unsalted butter, chopped
4.4 oz sugar
3 large eggs, separated and room temperature
powdered sugar for dusting
1. Grease and line (with parchment/baking paper) the baking tin. I used a ceramic baking dish. It was not difficult to line with the parchment paper. Just remember to make small equal sized cuts (no larger than an inch from the bottom) across the bottom of the paper to allow the paper to easily round the curves of the dish. The paper should have about a 2 inch edge over the top.
2. Place the chocolate pieces in a metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Careful not to let any steam or water touch the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until melted. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Continue to stir until the butter and chocolate are incorporated. Add the sugar and the almond meal. Stir until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
3. Continue to stir until the mixture is no longer hot. Add the eggs, one at a time. Making sure to incorporate each egg before adding the next. Emiko suggests adding in any ingredients (orange zest, rum, etc. at this point). I added Grand Marnier
4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with beaters to soft, fluffy peaks. Fold the whites gently through the chocolate and almond batter.
5. Pour the batter into the cake tin. Smooth over the top and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top appears dry and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Do not overcook!! The cake is meant to be moist. Cool completely
6. Dust with powdered sugar.
As you can see from the picture, I added a special Valentine touch. Hopefully, my ideas will be a spring board for you and you can come up with a new creative idea. Listed below are some special touches.
1. I added Grand Marnier to the chocolate batter and to the whipped cream
2. I bought ready made whipped cream from Whole Foods Market. It's found in the open refrigerated case holding the fresh berries.
3. I topped the center of the cooled cake with the whipped cream, forming a heart shape.
4. I topped the whipped cream with fresh raspberries and made an apricot glaze to finish the berries.
5. I baked the cake in a heart shape ceramic dish.
MARCH: Lemon Curd Mousse Cake: Epicurious; Bon Appetit, April 2005
I LOVE lemon!!! Lemon filled donuts, Lemon tarts, Lemon Meringue pie, Lemonade, lemon and tequila!! You get the idea. So, Costco was selling bags of lemons and the rest is history. I searched the internet looking for the most inviting dessert and this one was a gem. If you search Epicurious, Bon Appetit, April 2005, you'll find this recipe. I read the reviews and some weren't so positive. However, there were those reviews that loved it. My recommendations are, read the recipe ahead of time. Follow the instruction exactly as written. Make sure you measure and prepare your ingredients, bowls, and tools ahead of time and you won't have any problems.
This cake is outstanding! Plan on 2 days. On the first day make the lemon curd. The curd can be make 1 day ahead. On the second day make the crust, mouse and assemble the cake. Let is sit over night in the refrigerator. Eat on the third day.
Bake at 350°F (For the crust only)
Time: I recommend a 2 day process. Make the curd on day 1.
Materials: 20 cm or 8 inch diameter round springform pan, parchment paper, 2 small bowls, 3 med. bowls, 2 large bowls, 1 large heavy sauce pan, 3 small sauce pans, electric mixer, whisk, plastic wrap
Serves about 6
A quick note. I used Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookies for the crust. I prefer to use lemon cookies with out frosting, rather than short bread. Lemon Cooler Cookies from Nabisco also work well. Do not use Girl Scouts Lemon Cookies, as they have frosting.The frosting melts into the cookie crumbs and the result are heart breaking. I tried it and it doesn't work. It was awful. Save those delicious cookies for tea time.
2 1/3 cups sugar
4 tps. cornstarch
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (I use NUTIVA Shortening. It's an organic superfood)
2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs (I used Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookies)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted)
5 tbs. water
4 tps. unflavored gelatin (I only use KNOX) I tried others and they left a metallic taste.
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Lemon slices, cut into quarters for the garnish (optional) I didn't do this.
1. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a heavy large saucepan.
2. Gradually add lemon juice, whisking until all cornstarch is dissolved.
3. Whisk in eggs and yolks. Add butter. Stir over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes.
4. Transfer to medium bowl. Chill until cold, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 1 week ahead).
5. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and keep it chilled.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease the bottom of the 8" diameter springform pan.
3. Blend the cookie crumbs and butter in a small bowl.
4. Press onto the bottom of a pan.
5. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool.
1. Pour 5 tablespoons of water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over.
2. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
3. Place 1 3/4 cups of lemon curd in a large bowl.
4. Stir 3/4 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm.
5. Stir gelatin mixture over medium-low heat until resolved and liquid is clear (do not boil).
6. Whisk warm gelatin mixture into 3/4 cup warm curd. Gradually, whisk gelatin-curd mixture into curd in large bowl.
7. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually, add sugar, beating until whites are thick and glossy.
8. Fold egg white into curd mixture, in 3 additions. Using the same beater, beat cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Fold into egg white curd mixture in 3 additions.
9. Pour enough mousse over cooled crust to fill pan completely. Pour remaining mousse into small bowl and reserve. Cover and chill mousse cake, reserved mousse, and remaining curd overnight.
10. Using long thin knife, cut around cake to loosen. Remove pan sides. Gently spread 3/4 cup of remaining curd over cake. The curd will drip down the sides. Transfer reserved mousse to pastry bag fitted with small star tip.
11. Pipe rosettes of mousse around top edge of cake. Chill cake until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead.)
12. Garnish with quartered lemon slices.
Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake (Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Winter June-July 2013)
Laguna Beach, California is the quintessential artsy, bohemian like, coastal small town. Beside spending time on the beach, shopping, eating, and strolling. I love the variety of outdoor concerts in the park. My running friends and I regularly frequent these lively nostalgic rock concerts. Nothing could be better than rocking out to a Tom Petty cover band, letting my hair down in the afternoon's sun, with a gentle sun kissed breeze brushing my face. Oh! And, let's not forget the comradery of friends bonded with good food, wine, and music.
My job was to bring the dessert. Of course, who else? I dazzled by friends with this delicate, divinely moist, Lemon Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake.
Bake: 325 degrees F (convection oven/Fan-Forced)
Time: 40-45 minutes
Materials: 20 cm round springform pan lined with baking paper
120 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 275 grams (1 1/3 cups) caster sugar 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used vanilla bean paste) 1/4 cup lemon zest 4 eggs, separated and at room temperature 240 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond meal 300 grams (10 1/2 oz) ricotta Flaked almonds, to decorated Icing sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 160 degree celcius fan-force (325 degree fahrenheit fan-forced). Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
Place the butter, 165 grams caster sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the tops with a palette knife, decorate the cake with almond flakes, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch. Allow to cool completely in the cake tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
I drizzled a raspberry sauce over each piece.
This recipe was taken from tastesoffizzy.com. Use your favorite berry sauce recipe.
12 ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, divided (about 2-2 1/2 cups)3/4 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup water1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract2 teaspoons cornstarch2 tablespoons water1 tablespoon butter
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups raspberries, sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring often. Reduce heat and add the vanilla. In a small cup, combine the cornstarch and two tablespoons of water. Mix well.Pour this into the boiling raspberry mixture. Stir and boil over medium-low heat for 4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened a bit. Remove the pan from the heat.Add 1 tablespoon of butter and mix until the butter has completely melted. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes, then add the last of the raspberries and stir to mix. Serve over whatever dessert you'd like! Makes 2 1/4 cups sauce. Refrigerate the leftovers